—Daniel Freeman, first to file claim, Jan. 1, 1863
Here, an abundance of trees, stream, prairie—
enough to sustain a family, prove up this plot of land,
the first of thousands to be claimed across America.
Place that was first inhabited by natives, lodge-
and tipi-dwellers, who also relied on the wood, water,
flourishing wild game—hooved, pawed, and winged.
Prairie, where wild grasses are capable of growing
taller than humans, sustained through heat, drought,
cold, hail, snow, wind, by roots of unimaginable depth.
Today, those lives and roots have been forever altered:
settlement, industry, and agriculture that marched
our nation westward, the trails that led us to homes.
This nation-center of sod-grass that was plowed,
its soils rich, yielding an abundance, the foundation
of farms and ranches that sustain the multitudes.
Here, on the Homestead trails, we touch a multitude
of seed-heads, inhale green-blue-gold, hear the music
of insect-leaf-bird, bridge the creek-flow that connects
us to the past, where we ponder the flow of hope,
hardship, joy, and sorrow of this preserve, from all
that once roamed, to those spellbound as we step.
Copyright © 2016 by Twyla M. Hansen. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.